Baked Chicken Parmesan Meatballs in Tomato Cream Sauce
Meatballs in tomato sauce are the best comfort when you're fighting an unrelenting cold. This can be eaten alone with bread or they would be great over pasta, quinoa, on a sandwich or maybe even cut up and added to a pizza. Enjoy!
Yield: 6-8 servings
For the sauce:
1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes, liquid reserved
1 tbsp. butter
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1½ tbsp. tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
For the meatballs:
½ cup dried panko
1/3 cup grated onion
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried basil
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1½ lbs. ground chicken
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 oz. shredded mozzarella
2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan
2-3 tbsp. minced fresh basil (optional)
To make the sauce, add the tomatoes to a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth, adding a bit of the reserved liquid if necessary to smooth the mixture out. Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook about 1 minute, until it begins to soften. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and red pepper flakes and mix just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato mixture, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook about 5-8 minutes, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream. Set aside.
To make the meatballs, combine the panko, grated onion, parsley, basil, Parmesan, salt, pepper, garlic and egg. Stir together with a fork just until blended. Mix in the ground chicken and knead together gently until evenly combined. Form the mixture into meatballs about 1½-inch in diameter.
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs to the pan in a single layer. Let cook, turning occasionally, until all sides are browned.
Once all of the meatballs are browned, place them in the pan with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella and additional Parmesan over the top. Bake until the cheese is fully melted and bubbling and the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and garnish with the fresh basil. Serve warm.